Lysenko unemployed: Soviet genetics after the aftermath

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Abstract

The history of the so-called Lysenko affair—the domination of Soviet biology by the agronomist Trofim Denisovich Lysenko and the state-sanctioned proscription of genetics from 1948 to 1965—has for decades generated widespread political and historical interest as a textbook example of political distortion of science. Building on archival sources from the United States and Russia, this essay resituates the “ending” of this episode within the context of the Soviet science system, arguing against the prevalent “rise and fall” narrative. This reperiodization of the Lysenko episode allows an inquiry into how history and historiography mutually construct each other, as well as highlighting the significance of disestablishing discarded scientific institutions along with theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-78
Number of pages23
JournalIsis
Volume109
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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